A Haunting Experience on Paranormal Tour
I should start by admitting that, like the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz, "I do believe in spooks. I do believe in spooks. I do, I do, I do, I do believe in spooks." So maybe I'm not the most unbiased person to take a ghost tour of a local funeral home, but I also don't believe anything unless I see it or hear it for myself.
There are plenty of haunted houses this time of year, but I wanted to tour a house that is haunted, not one that is decorated for the season and occupied by living people in scary costumes. I found the perfect opportunity with Tyson Lidgett and Moshannon Valley Paranormal, which was offering public tours of several area businesses that have reported supernatural activities. Last Friday night, I joined about 20 other hopeful paranormal explorers at the Reed Funeral Home in Houtzdale.
What drew me to MVP is the scientific nature of their explorations. If Tyson and his team members can't measure it or record it, they don't consider it. There are no Ouija Boards or crystal balls — instead, everything is measured using voice recorders, electromagnetic field detectors, and thermometers. This was important to me because I recently lived in a local haunted farmhouse, though I never caught anything on camera. I could tell you stories about it that would give you goosebumps, but with no verifiable proof, they're just stories that can easily be dismissed.
Tyson Lidgett is no nonsense. As a corrections officer at SCI Rockview, he's no stranger to taking control of a situation, which was evident from the beginning of the hunt when he asked the room full of would-be hunters if we watched TV's Ghost Hunters. After most of us nodded "yes" in a darkened room, he announced "you can say 'yes or no' out loud," to which we all dutifully answered "yes."
Maybe Tyson's demeanor is part of the reason that I wasn't scared or nervous on our two-hour tour. I felt official and businesslike, like I was on a hunt. And that's how Tyson and his team of investigators treat their guests. We were each issued a monitoring device that could be used to either communicate with or detect the presence of a ghost.
Throughout the tour, there were a lot of close calls. We heard knocks from somewhere else in the house in response to our knocks. Muted voices seemed to carry out a conversation in the next room, but it was empty. Footsteps moved on the staircase while we all sat in the parlor. It was exciting but frustrating — I wanted to hear something definite.
The most convincing evidence came from a standard Maglite flashlight. Tyson's team set it on a table in the main room and invited any available spirits to indicate their presence by turning it on. Toward the end of the night, it did turn on and Tyson began asking questions to the spirit who was controlling it. The Maglite flickered on and off, often giving two or three flashes in direct response to the requests like turn on "twice if you are a female" and "three times if you once lived here."
I sat next to the Maglite and watched it closely. I also inspected it after the session. It was your average, run-of-the-mill flashlight found at any hardware store. The Maglite had no signs of tampering and there was nothing attached to it, as there would be if it had been retrofitted with a remote control. After the ghost hunt, I tried to find a reasonable explanation to the flashlight phenomenon. There are several skeptic websites that show how a Maglite can flash on and off by itself, but this happens randomly with no way to control the timing. On Friday night, the Maglite flashed on and off in response to questions that seemed too perfectly timed to just be a coincidence.
So could it all be a hoax or just our imagination? Maybe. I can't discount the possibility that some of the noises were just the shifting of an old house or that they were echoed sounds from people outside. There were times when we definitely heard something, but what, I can't say for sure.
The two things that make me a believer are based on simple logic. First, why would Tyson and MVP bother to develop a hoax? The admission fee from their recent tours is all being donated to local food banks, so there was no monetary reason to fake a ghost tour.
Second, if someone was going to create a fake ghost tour, they would make it more dramatic. Almost everything we heard was off in the distance or was open to interpretation. If I wanted to trick someone into thinking they heard a ghost, I'd make sure it was loud and clear.
I do believe there was something, or someone, otherworldly with us on Friday night. But I also believe most people would experience whatever they are predisposed to — a hardened skeptic won't be convinced and a believer will hear what they want.